Journalist, poet, and critic of literary texts and wine, Kalev Kesküla wrote poetry in prose, at walking pace: he paraphrased Michel de Certeau and defined himself as a flâneur. He was said to be a typical Estonian man, who cared about the things around him and talked of them with different shades of irony, from mild to aristocratic, but not biting.

Kalev Kesküla (1959-2010) was born in Tallinn, studied Estonian philology at the University of Tartu and worked as a journalist, columnist and editor of cultural pages in a weekly newspaper. In 2010 he was awarded the Estonian Cultural Endowment’s Literature Foundation prose award for his last book, Elu sumedusest (The Mellowness of Life, 2009). Kesküla debuted with a collection titled Läbi linnaöö (Through the City Night, 1986). In his poetry, where social themes and mild irony dominate in verse libre, the rhythm of a town, even the smells of it can be felt. In Platoni riigis (In Plato`s Republic, 2002) he writes texts rich in allusions, and Tallinn emerges as an ironic acropolis over the cities of Europe. He was the leading wine expert and critic in Estonia and therefore composed two wine lexicons or guides with never-fading interest and love. His collection of essays, Külma kodumaa (The Homeland of Cold, 2002), consists of forty essays about the soul and body of the Estonian Republic – the ideas, money, sex, happiness, insights to literature, dionysiac culture and love for homeland, incidentally also of the only suit of Maksim Gorky.

The Mellowness of Life is a collection of poetry-like novelettes or miniatures, characterized as pieces of sane pleasant irony. They are heartening, full of peace of mind and positive attitude, good and cosy, being insights on literature, written by a flâneur on the streets or a literary landscape – either Estonian or of the world, meditations about books from Elfriede Jelinek to Ernest Hemingway, a keen glance in a hazy or, rather, a soft world.

Text by Elle-Mari Talivee


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